Sept 16th 2016
The recent ruling by Commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Apple back-taxes due to Ireland is being presented by this Fine Gael-led government (and by their Fianna Fáil allies) as an attack on Ireland’s sovereignty, on our right to set our own Corporate Tax rate particularly.
It is not.
This week in Strasbourg Commissioner Vestager came to Parliament and in reply to Fine Gael MEPs Deirdre Clune, Sean Kelly and Brian Hayes, who all repeated that red-herring claim, she reiterated what she has been emphasising from the beginning: this ruling is about illegal state aid, it's about flying in the face of EU Competition law, which - as both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil know very well - is a fundamental of the EU since before even the EEC days.
To quote what Commissioner Vestager said in her opening statement: 'This decision follows an in-depth investigation of two tax rulings issued by Ireland to Apple. We concluded that they gave Apple a selective advantage over other companies. It artificially reduced Apple's tax burden for over two decades – this is illegal under EU State aid rules. Apple now has to pay the unpaid tax of up to €13bn, plus interest. Member States cannot give unfair tax benefits and thereby selectively favour certain companies.
‘EU State aid rules keep the level playing field in the Single Market; they ensure that companies can compete on equal terms, and protect European taxpayers. THE STATE AID DECISION ON APPLE DOES NOT CALL INTO QUESTION IRELAND'S GENERAL TAX SYSTEM OR ITS CORPORATE TAX RATE.'
And there it is, clear as crystal.
Fianna Fáil set up the Apple sweetheart deal, Fine Gael helped preserve it. They are now going to use our money to challenge the European Commission ruling so, as they get ready to storm the GPO in Brussels (so to speak), at the very least they should be honest with us; their Proclamation should begin as follows – 'Irishmen and Irish women; in the name of Apple, Google and all other multinational corporations...'.
It’s ironic though, isn't it, that this is happening on the weekend of yet another massive national water-charges protest against a new tax (and tax it is) that they say they have no choice but to impose because the Commission has ordered it so.
Worse, it’s doubly ironic because this is all mere weeks after our Central Bank destroyed yet another €500m in the ongoing destruction of the Promissory Note €31bn, the Anglo/INBS debt legacy, an order from the Commission and the ECB that again this government dare not challenge.
And yet Apple and the billions the Commission say are owing to Ireland is the issue on which Enda Kenny, Michael Noonan and the Fine Gael battalions choose to go to war with the EU. Ironic, but not even slightly surprising.
Now at least this government has been flushed out into the open.
Now at least we can all see for whom they govern, and it’s not for us, the people.
Now at least we can see whose interests they protect. And it's not the interests of the people.
I make no secret of the fact that I don’t like where the EU is now, and I fear the direction in which it is heading. In this decision however I fully support Commissioner Vestager. Not because it comes from an EU institution, but simply because it’s the right thing to do.
Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and their various coalition colleagues in Labour, the PDs, the Greens etc, have made Ireland a tax haven, enabled the likes of Apple to route their profits through Ireland and in the process, made it impossible for countries around the globe to collect taxes rightfully due in those jurisdictions. Then we have the likes of Brian Hayes, Deirdre Clune and Seán Kelly cry in the European Parliament – it wasn’t up to Ireland to collect taxes for others, they should have collected them for themselves!’
Imagine someone casting a net across the mouth of the Corrib and then, when the fishermen upstream complain, cry out ‘It’s not our fault if you can’t catch your quota!’
We’ve been caught, exposed for the tax haven we are, our global corporation tax-evading ‘laws’ held up for the world to jeer. But rather than hold our hands up and come clean, this government decides to use more of our scarce resources to appeal.
There’s an old expression – the higher the monkey climbs the tree, the more arse he shows. Kenny/Noonan et al are a bit exposed right now, aren’t they???